How to fit writing into your life

Fitting in writing

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Hi guys,

Just a quick list post detailing several different ways of sneaking that little extra bit of writing time into your life! It’s a bit hypocritical of me as I’ve chosen to write this as opposed to actually getting on with my novel or short stories but oh well…Here goes!

1. Try and write 500 words a day – Exactly as it sounds, try and write a minimum of 500 words per day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it works! Becca has written 70,000 words of her first draft this way. She has also written a detailed blog post about this method, which you can read here. Also, it needn’t be 500 words exactly, just choose a goal that you believe to be attainable and get cracking!

Why this will work:

In his eBook Mastering creativity, James Clear explores the importance of having a schedule and sticking to it – to him, consistency and routine is the difference between being a professional, and being an amateur. 

He says

if you’re serious about creating something compelling, you need to stop waiting for motivation and inspiration to strike you and simply set a schedule for doing work on a consistent basis.Of course, that’s easy to say, but much harder to do in practice…..If you don’t have a time block to write every week, then you’ll find yourself saying things like, “I just need to find the willpower to do it.” Stop waiting for motivation or inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits’.

The entire publication is well worth a read. Find it here. Bottom line is, if you set yourself a schedule and stick to it, it will soon become a habit – as integral to your daily routine as brushing your teeth in the morning!

2. Set a timer for 15 minutes each day and write – Very similar to the above point, but you set a timer instead. This may work better if you have less time, as you know exactly how long you will need, thus will be easier to stick to and schedule in. Just promise yourself you will write AT LEAST until the timer finishes, and more if you fancy it. You could end up writing for hours. OR you could end up writing for 15 minutes. But hey, at least you’re making progress! I’m very tempted to give this method a go, as I’ve been slacking BIG TIME on my writing recently.

3. Devote one day a week to writing – It doesn’t have to be a whole day, but choose a day where you are free of other commitments and spend a few hours writing. This is what I (try to) do. I’m busy the rest of the week with work (now part time, woohoo) and then freelancing afterwards, so I tend to write on weekends. Sundays generally work for me, so I’ll try and sit down and crack out 3 or 4 hours of writing. Although this can work out really well (I once wrote 10,000 words in a day…) it can also be harder to keep to. Life happens, and sometimes your writing days will end up being filled with other commitments. It’s definitely worth giving it a go though, especially if you’re like me, and like to write in big chunks.

4. Download Evernote and write on the train / in lunch breaks / whilst waiting to pick up the kids etc – I love Evernote! I downloaded it over a year ago when I first started writing, and I used this method when I was writing my first draft. I was commuting into London every day and would try and add a little bit to my draft every morning (assuming I got a seat on the train). It worked great and, even though the writing was appalling ( I absolutely hate typing on phones),  I succeeded in outlining the main story line this way. Evernote also allows you to access all your notes on any computer / iPad with an internet connection, so you can get home and pick up where you left off on your laptop. It is also a good source for note taking. If you need to brush up on your note-taking skills, take a look at Becca’s post about the topic here.

Top tip: Split your writing into chapters, or scenes, and have each one in a different ‘note’, otherwise you will find yourself having to scroll for ten minutes just to find the bit of writing you’re looking for. Not ideal! Remember, you can finalise chapter breaks properly once you are in the editing stage – you don’t need to commit to these specific breaks permanently, it is just easier from a usability perspective whilst you are at the drafting stage.  

5. Ignore how bad your writing is – So you’ve found the time to write, which is great, but sometimes the quality of our writing can stop us in our tracks! Don’t sweat it. Sometimes our brains just don’t work (example, I just wrote ‘sometims our bains don’t work’…) but don’t let this put you off. If you’re having one of those days, just dump as much as you can on the page (no actual dumping please…). You never know, 10% of it could be salvageable and at least you’ve made progress. Moral of the story: any writing is better than no writing! Again, James Clear advocates the idea that you should give yourself permission to create junk:

Creative work is no different than training in the gym. You can’t selectively choose your best moments and only work on the days when you have great ideas. The only way to unveil the great ideas inside of you is to go through a volume of work, put in your repetitions, and show up over and over again. Obviously, doing something below average is never the goal. But you have to give yourself permission to grind through the occasional days of below average work because it’s the price you have to pay to get to excellent work.

From personal experience, both Becca and I would say that this is spot on. If you fancy a laugh why don’t you check out some of our first draft’s  biggest fails here and here.

That’s all for now!

xxxxx

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